Inguinal Hernia (2023)

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An inguinal hernia is a bulge that occurs in your groin region, thearea between the lower part of your abdomen and your thigh. Inguinalhernias occur because of a weakening of the muscles in the lowerabdomen.

Three layers protect the intestines inside the lower abdomen. The firstis a thin membrane called the peritoneum. The second is made up of theabdominal muscles, and the third is your skin.

An inguinal hernia forms when your intestines and the peritoneum pushthrough the muscles and appear as a bulge under your skin. Inguinalhernias are dangerous because they tend to keep getting larger and yourintestine can get trapped inside the bulge and lose its blood supply.This is called a strangulated inguinal hernia, and surgery may beneeded to correct the problem.

Facts about inguinal hernia

Inguinal hernias may occur on one or both sides of the body and aremuch more common in men than women. An inguinal hernia can appear atany age. Infants may be born with one that doesn’t show up until theybecome adults. About five out of every 100 children are born with thecondition.

An inguinal hernia can also develop over time if you increase pressureon the walls of your abdominal muscles through activities likestraining to go to the bathroom, coughing over a long period, beingoverweight, or lifting heavy weights. If you have a family history ofinguinal hernia, you may be at a higher risk for one. Infants bornbefore their due date are also at higher risk.

Types of inguinal hernia

Inguinal hernias come in two types:

  • Indirect inguinal hernia. This is the most common type, and a type of hernia that you may be born with. Although it can occur in men and women, it is much more common in men. This is because the male testicle starts inside the abdomen and has to go down through an opening in the groin area to reach the scrotum (the sac that holds the testicles). If this opening does not close at birth, a hernia develops. In women, this type of hernia can occur if reproductive organs or the small intestine slides into the groin area because of a weakness in the abdominal muscles.

  • Direct inguinal hernia. This type of hernia is caused by weakening of your abdominal muscles over time and is more likely to be seen in adults. Direct inguinal hernias occur only in men.


The main symptom is a visible bulge in your groin area. In men, aninguinal hernia may extend down into the scrotum and cause an enlargedscrotum. Small hernias may slide back and forth through the opening inthe abdomen and not cause any symptoms. Larger hernias may be massagedback into the abdomen. Symptoms of hernias that go back and forthinclude:

(Video) Inguinal Hernia Symptoms and Treatment

  • A bulge that increases in size when you strain and disappears when you lie down

  • Sudden pain in your groin or scrotum when exercising or straining

  • A feeling of weakness, pressure, burning, or aching in your groin or scrotum

An inguinal hernia that can't be moved back into the abdomen is calledan incarcerated hernia. This is a dangerous situation because the partof your intestine inside the hernia can become strangulated, which is amedical emergency. Symptoms of a strangulated inguinal hernia include:

  • Severe pain and redness

  • Pain that keeps getting worse

  • Fever

  • Rapid heart rate

  • Nausea and vomiting


Inguinal hernia is most often diagnosed through a medical history andphysical examination. Your doctor will ask you questions about herniasymptoms. During the exam, he or she will look for and feel for a bulgein your groin or scrotal area. You may be asked to stand and cough tomake the hernia appear. Inguinal hernias in children may only be seenor felt when the child cries.

(Video) Overview inguinal hernia repair

Inguinal Hernias in Children | Q&A with Dr. Clint Cappiello


The way to repair an inguinal hernia is usually with a surgicalprocedure. In adults with small hernias that don’t cause symptoms,treatment may only be to watch it. Adults with symptoms and mostchildren usually have surgery to prevent the possible complication of astrangulated hernia in the future. An incarcerated or strangulatedhernia may need emergency surgery.

There are two main types of surgery for inguinal hernia:

  • Open repair. An incision is made through the skin in the groin area. The surgeon moves the hernia back inside the abdomen and closes the abdominal wall with stitches. Mesh placement may be used to strengthen the closure and reduce the risk of recurrence of the hernia.

  • Laparoscopy or robotic-assisted repair. This type of surgery uses a few small incisions and a thin scope with a tiny camera. The surgeon works through the scope to repair the hernia, sometimes operating from a console maneuvering robotic arms. Mesh is typically used for these repairs. Recovery is shorter and pain is less severe after these minimally invasive approaches than with open repair.


There is nothing you can do to prevent an indirect inguinal hernia, thetype you are born with. Direct hernias that occur over time may beprevented with these precautions:

(Video) Inguinal Hernia Symptoms and Surgical Repair, Dr. Hadley Wesson

  • Learn how to lift heavy objects properly.

  • Avoid and, when needed, treat constipation to prevent straining when having a bowel movement.

  • Get treatment for any persistent cough.

  • If you are a man with an enlarged prostate and you strain to pass urine, get treated.

  • If you are overweight, lose the extra pounds.

Managing inguinal hernia

If you have had surgery for inguinal hernia, it is important to followall your doctor's instructions and keep your follow-up appointments.Getting out of bed and walking is an important part of recovery andhelps prevent complications. You can help to keep an inguinal herniafrom coming back after surgery by avoiding heavy lifting and otherstrenuous activity. Ask your doctor what types of activities are safeand when you can return to work.

If you have a small hernia that is being watched or a repaired hernia,take steps to avoid becoming constipated. Eat lots of fiber, drinkplenty of fluids, exercise, and go to the bathroom when you feel theurge.

Call your doctor if your inguinal hernia symptoms get worse, and alwayscall right away if:

  • You have a painful bulge that can't be pushed back inside.

  • You have increasing pain, swelling, or redness.

    (Video) Inguinal Hernia Repair Surgery, Risks and Outcomes - CHI Health

  • You have nausea, fever, or vomiting along with hernia pain.


1. Laparoscopic inguinal hernia repair (Based on Patkowski's technique
(Society of American Gastrointestinal and Endoscopic Surgeons (SAGES))
2. Timing of Inguinal Hernia Repair in Premature Babies UTHealth
(McGovern Medical School)
3. Inguinal hernia-Open mesh repair
(Society of American Gastrointestinal and Endoscopic Surgeons (SAGES))
4. Introduction to Direct and Indirect Inguinal Hernia
(Armando Hasudungan)
5. Inguinal Hernia
6. Inguinal Hernia (2009)
(Nucleus Medical Media)
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